I hadn’t actually planned on making a cake for Ashley’s 3rd birthday this year. H was vehemently against the idea, wanting me to get as much rest as possible, given my far from stellar state of health in the last months.
But as her birthday drew closer, I knew that I really wanted to do it. Mostly for myself, if I were being truthful. I had been feeling really down as the month of March approached and needed to do something that would bring all of us some joy.
It wasn’t difficult to settle on a theme for the cake; I picked one of Ashley’s favourite TV shows. If you had asked me 2 years ago if I knew what “Team Umizoomi” was, I would have gone, “Huh? Team what?”
I’m glad to say that I’m now better informed (about children’s TV programs, that is) and can tell you confidently that Team Umizoomi is a mathematics themed cartoon series, created by the Nickelodeon channel, featuring concepts like counting, shapes and patterns. You know, the kind of things that typical Asian parents want their progenies to excel in.
Coincidentally, there are 3 main characters (Milli, Geo and Bot) in the show, which I thought was pretty appropriate for a 3rd birthday, no?
I started off with a tentative sketch of the cake and then searched for images of Milli, Geo and Bot. I was disappointed that I couldn’t find any images of the characters in a suitable pose, so I drew all 3 by hand. Each character took about 3 hours to make since every piece of gumpaste had to be drawn and cut by hand.
For the cake I wanted to try a something different from the dark chocolate cake I normally use for fondant cakes. I had been particularly drawn to the idea of a rainbow cake in pastels after seeing WL and C’s gorgeously vibrant version, even though baking each layer individually would obviously take more time and effort than a single cake. I also hesitated, knowing how certain family members would balk at consuming cake with food colouring, no matter how tiny an amount, but I figured since I had already spent all that time just on the external decorations, I might as well go all out on the inside as well. Besides, this cake was about making Ashley (and me) happy, so who cares what anyone else thinks about food colouring!
The look of sheer delight on Ashley’s face (her eyes literally widened in surprise) when she came home from school and saw the stack of freshly baked cake layers arranged on the cake rack was worth every minute (and every bit of food colouring) I had spent.
I had initially considered going with the obvious numbers and shapes theme on the cake itself, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of how utterly boring and un-girly that would make the cake.
Ashley enjoys her trips to the aquarium (as well as Bubble Guppies, another Nick Jr. channel program and Finding Nemo), so for the bottom tier, I went with an underwater theme with waves in various shades of blue and bright orange fishes, complete with bubbles.
The theme for the top tier was more or less random, I have to admit. I chose it for the contrast that shades of green and purple would give against the pretty canary yellow background and to bring in colour that would match Milli’s dress.
I’m utterly pleased with how delightfully pretty and colourful the cake turned out and how the entire process, while time consuming (because I had cut every single piece of gumpaste and fondant on the cake by hand without the use of cutters), gave me a sense of accomplishment. I can’t wait for the next occasion to make another fondant cake!